Single rejected ballot will be reviewed by provincial judge, could determine vacant council seat

The Oct. 24 municipal election ended on a confusing note in the race for city council, since candidates Andre Proulx and Chiew Chong tied for the eighth and final seat with 1,008 votes apiece. 

Following a review of the election results, the City of Thompson is saying that a single ballot, which was rejected due to improper marking, could break this tie.

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Senior election official Dave Turpie said that the ballot was rejected because there were two marks in the mayoral ballot section – one of them a solid marking indicating a vote for one of the candidates and the other an “ambiguous” mark, which resulted in the machine that tabulates votes rejecting it for having two votes for mayor. There were also eight properly marked votes for councillors and seven for school trustees. 

Both Proulx and Chong objected to the ballot rejection, the City of Thompson said in a press release, which meant that Turpie had to apply for a judicial recount under the Municipal Councils and School Boards Elections Act.  Recounts must be held within two weeks of the application or as soon as practicable, says the act, which also stipulates that the recount must be conducted in the same fashion as the original count – either by hand or by voting machine tabulation, unless the judge believes that method of counting caused or contributed to the doubtful result. If possible, the recount must occur continuously between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on a weekday. The results must be announced once the recount is completed.

If the judge allows the rejection to stand, the tie will remain and the city will proceed with a byelection where any qualified person, not just Proulx or Chong, could run for that vacant council seat. If the judge decides that the votes for councillors and school trustees should be included in the official tally, it may break the tie if only one of the two candidates who are currently tied are among the council selections, Turpie said.

Chong suggested to Winnipeg news outlets that the city could save the cost of having a byelection by having he and Proulx each serving two years of the four-year council term.

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